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Dr Lam's Tai Chi, Health & Lifestyle Newsletter - Issue Number 113, January 2011

In this issue:

Click on the title above to read the articles, this link to read all previous newsletters and here to subscribe.
Hello Everyone,
Welcome to 2011!  May this be a fulfilling year for you with abundant qi!  We hope you are enjoying your practice and having fun discovering new horizons with your tai chi.Dr Paul Lam conducting tai chi for arthritis workshop in Nottingham Robin Hood country in UK Oct 2010
The year 2010 has been a year of growth and development. One of the most significant events was establishing the Tai Chi for Health Institute. The board and I are working tirelessly to promote the Tai Chi for Health programs so that people are empowered to improve their health and wellness. Please find out more about our activities by clicking on monthly highlights on the Tai Chi for Health Institute website. The Institute represents all who teach and participate in the Tai Chi for Health programs – it is your Institute.  I encourage you to be part of it.
Among the Institute’s numerous undertakings, one was to set up the Innovative Excellence and Community Partnership Award. This award is to recognise an organisation or individual who was innovative in promoting the Tai Chi for Health programs to benefit Tai Chi and Wellness in the community.
The inaugural recipient is the NSW Greater Southern Area Health Service (GSAHS), Australia. The GSAHS covers 166,000 sq km and has a population of approximately 468,000 persons. There are six main areas of population density in Albury, Deniliquin, Goulburn, Griffith, Queanbeyan, Wagga Wagga and the Area has many smaller rural towns. GSAHS has been working with us to establish an effective community network in bringing the Tai Chi for Health program to thousands of people over the last ten years. Read their article - Falls, Promoting Health, Engaging Community, in this newsletter. The award will be presented on the 13th January, 2011 at our annual one week Sydney tai chi workshop, St Vincent’s College, Potts Point. Anyone is welcome to the presentation at 9.00 am.
The annual one week workshop is a great place for all of us to exchange ideas, gain energy and positive spirit to enhance our practice and exploration in tai chi!  If you are not participating in this workshop, you can still join us in the evening seminars or subsequent workshops throughout the year. Looking forward to seeing you in one or several workshops this year!
Dr Paul Lam and colleagues at the Better Health Tai Chi Chuan 25 year anniversary demonstration Nov. 2010
Whatever challenges in your life may be this New Year, I believe tai chi empowers us to overcome these more efficiently by improving our health and harmony. We have planned a new program; Tai Chi for Energy this year, as well as workshops and other projects to provide you with more tools to help improve health and wellness.

In this newsletter:

  • The NSW Greater Southern Area Health Service (GSAHS) demonstrates how they are able to implement the TCA program, to reduce falls and improve all aspects of health for older people in the greater rural communities.
  • Dr Lam shares his insight into what is real tai chi? Does real tai chi exist? What determines real tai chi?
  • Maree Lamb writes about how attending the “Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi Workshop” with Dr Lam helped her to understand and begin to develop the spirit of Tai Chi. Although it is rooted in the Tai Chi principles it is very personal and this shows in each individual’s interpretation of the form.
  • Trevor Reynaert has suffered for chronic back pain for over 20 years.  He shares with us how his years of practising and teaching Tai Chi for Health have helped him control and minimise the effects of his own chronic back pain. 
  • Caroline Demoise shares some thoughts on how to answer the difficult questions students sometimes ask – similar to ones Dr Lam encountered.
This Month’s Special:
Purchase products to the value of $50 or more and receive a 'FREE'  Tai Chi for Music CD.
Worth USD $15.95 or AUD $19.95. Limit to one order per person.
When ordering please quote special code "SP0111MCD" in the comment section.
Upcoming workshops: by Dr Paul Lam

January 10 - January 15, 2011. Sydney, NSW, Australia
One Week Tai Chi Workshop 

March 05 - March 06, 2011.  Fullarton, SA, Australia
Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor Training
May 14 - May 15, 2011. Sydney, NSW, Australia
Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor Training
May 14 - May 15, 2011. Sydney, NSW, Australia
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor Training
May 14 - May 15, 2011. Sydney, NSW, Australia
Tai Chi for Osteoporosis Instructor Training
May 14 - May 15, 2011. Sydney, NSW, Australia
Tai Chi for Arthritis Part II and Update
June 11 - June 12,  2011. Terre Haute, IN, United States
Tai Chi for Fall Prevention & Seated Tai Chi for Arthritis

June 13 - June 18, 2011. Terre Haute, IN, United States
One Week Tai Chi Workshop

Many other workshops conducted by my authorised master trainers are listed in Workshop Calendar.
Yours in Tai Chi,
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Falls, Promoting Health, Engaging Community
L Dubois, Coordinator Service Integration, GSAHS TCA Program
N Follett, Health Development Program Coordinator - Physical Activity, GSAHS TCA ProgramTai Chi poster from Greater South Area Health Service NSW Australia 2010
The evaluation of the Greater Southern Area Health Service Physical Activity Leaders Network (the network) looks at all aspects of delivering tai chi over a large geographic area. The network is a volunteer support strategy implemented to ensure the continuation of low cost fall safe physical activity options for older people in rural communities. The network aims to train and provide ongoing support to implement Tai Chi for Arthritis and other gentle exercise programs on a not for profit basis.  The results of the evaluation exceeded our expectations and we have been truly surprised.

Participants say, ‘’this is just right for me.” The classes have been operating in up to 64 towns with over 120 classes per week. Our participant are in the 65- 75 plus age group, a perfect age to reduce injury from falls.  It only costs a gold coin donation to attend a class and at the time of these evaluation 204 men and 1329 women regularly attend each week. There is no time limit on how many weeks a participant may attend. A review of participants health risk factors found (215/246; 87%) had a chronic illness. There is a compelling body of qualitative evidence that participants in tai chi learn skills which improve their balance, and make them less prone to falling. The program has a range of other benefits cited by participants who also warrant consideration, particularly its impacts on social isolation, confidence and anxiety. Some of these are likely to be specific to tai chi which has a complex movement language which needs to be mastered by participants to progress. 

Leaders say “I’m doing something for my community.” Leaders contributed close to 7620 hours of direct teaching time and are  more likely to be female (female:male ratio, 6.8:1). Like participants more than half the leaders had significant medical illnesses requiring medication, mostly cardiac in nature. Participants rate the skill and knowledge of Tai Chi leaders very highly.  In response to the question “what motivates you to keep running [classes]?” It seems that motivation hinges on the class themselves, the prospect of improved health outcomes and the support provided by the GSAHS network. Leaders expressed appreciation for the ‘opportunity’ to lead tai chi and saw this as an added benefit they derive from their own participation.
“The outcome from the class. I’ve seen lots of different positive effects on many different individuals who’ve come through the class.  And I think it’s having a real impact on our community here, so I find that it’s quite valuable. I enjoy the company of all the people here. I think it works both ways.  I look forward to seeing my ‘oldies’ every week, you know, as I refer to them.” 

Other aspects of the evaluation look at the community benefits and how the program mitigates against falls by directly improving balance, and indirectly through improving activity levels, reducing social isolation, improving concentration, and mediating some elements of behaviour change. All important aspects when designing a model are aim at covering a large geographical area. Copies of the report will be available soon.
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What is Real Tai Chi?
Dr Paul Lam, Founder of the Tai Chi for Health Programs, Narwee, NSW, AustraliaDr Paul Lam practicing Single Whip Yang Style tai chi at the origin of tai chi Wudanshan, China, 2010
I often heard this question asked. Some even ask whether Tai Chi for Health is real tai chi. My colleagues respond in various ways. Most explain what tai chi is and of course Tai Chi for Health is real tai chi. When discrepancies arise, others like Caroline Demoise, use tai chi principles to harmonize different opinions. Some colleagues, in order to avoid a long discussion/disagreement, call Tai Chi for Health an exercise. Tai Chi is, of course, an exercise, just about anything good for health is an exercise, such as walking, swimming, running, tennis, golf, martial art… but is Tai Chi for Health real tai chi?
Almost as old as civilization, the claim that certain things are real and to exclude the ‘unreal ones’ exist in different cultures and tai chi is no exception. From the origin of tai chi in Chen’s village, there was already a dispute of what was real tai chi. Actually there is still an ongoing dispute whether Chen is the original style. For the sake of my topic, let assume it is. When the great Chen Fake took his Forms outside his village, he extended the Forms to a larger shape. A dispute began as whether ‘large frame’ or ‘small frame’ was real Chen style. Most Chen style tai chi practitioners nowadays practice the ‘large frame’, yet the voice that ‘large frame’ is not real tai chi can still be heard!
When Yang Lu-chan the creator of Yang style modified Chen style to make it gentler and more accessible for people, he was accused of watering it down. Rumour has it that he did it to hide the real tai chi from the foreigners. He was employed as the imperial tai chi teacher, and in the Ching dynasty, the Manchurians were considered to be foreigners by the Han Chinese those days. So the talk around town was still alive that Yang style was not real tai chi, although the majority of tai chi practitioners were Yang stylists.  Now and then, many tai chi practitioners would have heard one branch of Yang stylist talk about how real their tai chi is and how ‘unreal’ other branches were.
One of the greatest tai chi masters, the creator of Sun Style, Sun Lu-tan, who had an impeccable reputation as a martial artist.  They called him the invincible monkey because he was slim and had never been beaten in a duel. Mr Sun was an expert of the other internal Chinese martial art; Xingyi and Bagua before he learned tai chi. In his book he emphasized Sun Style tai chi was pure tai chi, not Xingyi or Bagua. He went on to say that one did not have to know Xingyi or Bagua in order to reach the highest level in Sun Style. I often wonder what made Mr Sun say that in the beginning of his book. Is it possible he was criticised that his tai chi was not “real tai chi”?
So what is real tai chi? Tai Chi performed by martial artists? Or tai chi performed by champions of competitions? The answer I believe comes down to what is tai chi? Once you truly understand tai chi then there is no need to dispute what is real and what is not real. Tai chi is unique but also complex, that no one can know it all. It can be many things to many people; it is an art that embraces the mind, the body, and the spirit.
At the core of all tai chi are the principles. No matter what style and what aspects of tai chi, as long as tai chi principles are adhered – the unique tai chi effect and health benefit will come. True tai chi movements are ones that incorporate tai chi principles. These principles include controlling movements to make them smooth and continuous, move as though there is a gentle resistance, correct posture and weight transference, being Song (loosening) and Jing (mental quietness or serenity). The controlled slow and smooth movements help to connect the mind and body and to have better focus. Song will enhance internal energy, improve flexibility and serenity. The right posture and awareness of weight transference improve balance and coordination. These principles work well whether you are using tai chi for health and wellness or for martial art.
A key principle in all tai chi movements is to listen to the incoming force, yield, absorb and redirect the incoming force, to gain control or to reach harmony.  This is the essential principle for using tai chi as a martial art. By understanding the incoming force; you can work out a more effective method to gain control of your opponent. Likewise, this principle is a most useful philosophy for interacting and working with others. By understanding others, you can better achieve your own goal.
I am so happy to see many famous masters of different styles meet and work together in recent years. Many of them participated in medical studies. The future of tai chi will be better served with Caroline’s idea of harmony and mutual understanding instead of tai chi people denigrating each other claiming who is ‘not real’. It will be more effective for us to look at each different ways and style as an advantage to bring together tai chi knowledge from different aspects and bring tai chi practitioners together for higher and positive purpose. Working together to practice and carry out research will give us a better understanding so we can gain more knowledge and benefits. 
If you were asked whether Tai Chi for Health is real tai chi, ask yourself if you have incorporated tai chi principles in your movements. Do remember progress in tai chi is through better understanding and incorporating the principles. You do not have to be perfect before you can claim you are practicing real tai chi. If your movements look like you have incorporated the principles – chances are that you have and you are doing ‘real’ tai chi. At the end of the day, what really matters is how much you have enjoyed your tai chi and how much benefits you have gained. 
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What I Learned about Tai Chi Spirit from taking a Depth Class.Maree Lamb at the Exploring the depth of tai chi for arthritis workshop in New Zealand August 2010
Maree Lamb, Physiotherapist, Senior Trainer, Mackay, QLD, Australia
Dr Lam has asked me to speak about what I learned about tai chi spirit from taking a TCA Depth class. I would like to rename this talk “What I have learned so far about tai chi spirit from taking 3 Depth Classes” because I  know there will be more to learn, and more Depth classes to go to. This is my favourite workshop. Although I know that my tai chi form improved during each Depth course, I have often wondered what extra attraction this particular workshop has for me.
I checked a dictionary for the meaning of spirit, and there were many. But I like this one:
Spirit is “An attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action”

Next I looked for articles and information about spirit as it relates to Tai Chi. There were many of those as well, and I have been inspired by thoughts particularly from Dr Lam, American MT Jef Morris and especially by American MT Caroline Demoise’s book “The Inner Path of Tai Chi - A Spiritual Journey”. Although it is sensible to look to written definitions and experts, it is just as important to speak to fellow instructors, students and tai chi friends about what exactly tai chi spirit means to them. So I did that as well. And I received answers such as “that is a tough one to put into words, it is more a feeling” and “I think it is the calmness inside me” and “Spirit is like the last piece of a big jigsaw that we call tai chi”. All good answers help me explain what it is about the Depth course that truly helped me to develop an understanding of tai chi spirit.
The TCA Depth course is described as helping us to develop a deeper meaning of tai chi principles & to explore the flow of qi and therefore get more enjoyment from our practice. I went along to the first one confident with my TCA form and feeling that I was ready to try taking my tai chi to the next level. I had not thought much about tai chi spirit as I had always been focussed on just remembering the moves. I soon discovered that although it is essential to know the form well, you must bring along what Caroline Demoise calls a “Beginners Mind”. This means that you can allow yourself to be open to new information and feel the inner focus of your energy, as you let your muscle memory do the job it is good at – taking you through the choreography of the moves. This is an example of the well known tai chi quote: “Where the mind leads, the body will follow”.

The Tai Chi Depth workshop peels back the layers of the moves and Dr Lam then helps the students to reconstruct their form using the power of the mind to feel each tiny part of the move. And for me, the transformation began. Each move felt new somehow, and I noticed subtle changes occurring in the way I was performing them. I could allow my mind to accept the information about the flow of Qi, about Song or loosening, about Jing or mental quietness and especially about Shen or spirit.  My body was being guided from within. I felt the micro-moves and how the little pieces of the tai chi jigsaw contributed to the whole picture. I understood about finishing a move and flowing seamlessly into the next one, about stopping without stopping, like the wave on the beach.

It became easier to act with intent or purpose, to feel the Qi flow, to finally enjoy a quiet mind and let go of the little things. I became less judgemental and self-critical and gave myself permission to “just do it”. My own interpretation of tai chi began to emerge and I finally understood why no two routines are exactly the same. It is not just about differences in physical ability. Surely the unique way we perform our tai chi is due to our own personal spirit creating the sense of flow, and not just about how low we can go or how high we can kick? The Tai Chi Depth course got me thinking about Yin and Yang. That Yin may be the internal, mental, quiet energy and that Yang would the outward expression of this.  The Depth course gave me the tools to further develop a balance of Yin & Yang and I found that I was enjoying my practice more and feeling an inner calmness and confidence.

I was fortunate when I began tai chi to have as my teacher the late MT Suzanne MacLauchlan. The fundamentals were very well taught and technically I knew my form was sound. But there was something else that I knew I needed to develop before I finally “got it”, something that I saw in Suzanne and other experienced tai chi players. I would like you to check what I mean when we see today’s demonstration. Don’t just watch for the technical correctness of the form but rather look for the subtle differences as each player draws on the tai chi spirit that they have developed. Returning to the definition of spirit: “An attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action.”

The  “Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis workshops” got me thinking, got me feeling and at last transformed my action through helping me to develop my tai chi spirit. Yes, it is grounded and guided by the tai chi principles, but it is very personal. And I still have a way to go.
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How I Overcome and Control My Back Pain
Trevor Reynaert - Tai Chi for Health instructor, Forest of Dean - UKTrevor Reynaert at the Exploring the depth of tai chi for arthritis workshop in Nottingham, UK Oct 2010
It's now over 25 years since I first succumbed to back pain.
Youthful years enjoying competition cycling with an inevitable arched back initiated the damage. In my late 30's recovery from a major ankle injury involved over 6 months of imbalanced movement and it was then that the spinal deterioration really kicked in. I soon began to experience severe lower back problems, often leading to a total leg collapse. This proceeded days of severe pain accompanied by spasm and near complete immobility, followed by several weeks of limited movement, often with months before a return to reasonable pain-reduced mobility. Conventional physio seemed to do little, if anything, to help.
After several relapses I started to realise that as well as posture and unbalanced movement, stress was also a contributory trigger factor. I had stumbled across references to tai chi over the years and out of curiosity I started on my own journey, not as a martial art, but inspired by its attribute of calm and perceived gentle movement. I looked for a teacher but the ones I approached either advised that with chronic back pain I would not be a suitable student, or tried to teach me in a conventional way, encouraging classic unachievable postures and movements that only succeeded in creating unnecessary tension as I tried to protect my body from further damage. I resorted to study and self-teaching, modifying movement to my own ability.
In 2001 I heard about Dr Paul Lam's modified Sun Tai Chi program and attended his first UK workshop. Although just recovering from a severe re-occurrence, I was made welcome and encouraged to join in at my own pace. I was soon practising his program on a daily basis and also teaching it. What a difference this has made to the succeeding years.
I now attribute a dramatic reduction in the occurrences of my chronic lower back pain to the regular practice of Dr Lam's Tai Chi for Arthritis and Back Pain. The gentle exercise and posture awareness over the past nine years have meant that the instances of once regular relapses have progressively reduced, with no severe spasm. When recurrences do occur, the initial recovery period has reduced to a few days and the overall return to full mobility is only a week or so, not months. General referred pain has also been considerably reduced.
Unfortunately, despite care and awareness, relapses do occur. So how do I use tai chi to overcome my back pain?
As soon as symptoms occur, I spend as much time as I can trying to relax, opening the joints to create "song". Breathing deeply and slowly, I visualise tai chi /qigong movement. This is done lying down or seated - it doesn't matter. As the recovery days progress I encourage more physical movement, initially seated, then working towards standing Sun style postures. Nothing extreme, gentle weight shift, small steps, definitely no kicks or even toe points at this stage. I call this form "Shuffle tai chi".
Slowly, slowly, as days pass, realisation of more flexible and normal movement occurs and referred pain reduces. When full mobility is restored, continuing practice continues to build up muscle strength and helps to minimise the effects of the next inevitable episode.  I tell everyone I teach that tai chi will reward tenfold the effort put into its practice. I know that it does for me.
So why it is that tai chi has helped me overcome my back pain? Modern documented studies appear to provide an answer by showing that, in addition to all it's well-known benefits in balance improvement, body strengthening, stress-relief and general health, tai chi  also strengthens core muscles surrounding the spine.
So if you do suffer from episodes of back pain, no matter what your age is, after first reviewing your condition with your doctor, I recommend that you get a copy of Dr Lam's Tai Chi for Back Pain DVD and if possible find one of his authorised teachers. Persevere, and like me, start to enjoy your tai chi with the new-found confidence and pain-reduced mobility it brings.
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Difficult Tai Chi Questions
Caroline Demoise, Master Trainer, Chapel Hill, NC, USACaroline Demoise in Beijing for Dr Lam's Tai Chi Tour in China April 2010
Have you ever been asked if the form you are teaching is real tai chi? Variations on this theme have emerged in my teaching life recently, and to address an inquiry like this you need to know where the person is coming from with their question. Everyone’s opinion is a result of their thoughts, beliefs and influence from their teachers. Our enculturation shapes our outlook on everything, including what is real tai chi. Everyone has a perspective about tai chi and as teachers our motivation is to harmonize with people who have different judgments about which forms are best or what constitutes authentic tai chi, to communicate effectively and address “the question behind the question” as we explain what our goal is in teaching the program we represent.
Because each of us is entitled to our opinion, the goal in harmonizing with people is ultimately to accept their right to their position, without making what we believe wrong or having to convert them to our way of thinking. When clear communication is exchanged and considered in an atmosphere of understanding where each side is coming from, then harmony is achieved. As we each hold our view, we can honour and allow a different view to be respected.
There are people in the world who feel that if you are not teaching a comprehensive program that includes a meditation (like the standing zhan zhuang practice), some qigong, a push hands component and martial applications with your style, that it isn’t an authentic tai chi experience. In some people’s minds teaching form alone is to teach tai chi as an exercise.
Tai chi is a clearly a multidimensional experience. Learning the choreographed sequence of movements is one aspect and tai chi movement clearly has been demonstrated in numerous studies to be a legitimate fitness exercise that benefits people. All tai chi forms, whether they are one of the five major recognized styles worldwide or one of the numerous family styles being taught, are based on “the essential tai chi principles”.  All tai chi choreography will produce relaxation in mind and body and with intention becomes a meditative experience. To experience tai chi’s multidimensionality requires that you wander down the inner path into the territory of depth. Tai chi is an internal art and that requires you to animate the form with an expression and demonstration of the principles. Learning depth takes time. Achieving a quiet mind requires focus. Transforming your physical body into a soft, unified expression of complex movements takes repetition over numerous practice sessions. Experiencing yourself as an energy body requires turning inward to sense and feel beyond physical matter.
My feeling is that when tai chi choreography is taught using essential principles, it can be considered real tai chi. It does not matter what style is being taught or the length of the sequence. What matters is that it is taught through the principles. Tai Chi for Arthritis, Tai Chi for Diabetes, Tai Chi for Osteoporosis and Tai Chi at Work are all real tai chi. All the inner components are present. Qigong is an integral component of these tai chi forms. A meditative mind is an essential attitude when you perform any choreography. When your intention creates an imaginary partner that you yield to, redirect, and push against and punch, you are incorporating the martial component into any form. Because the awareness in your mind is always sensing your body alignment in relation to gravity, in a way teaching form is an introduction to push hands. Gravity is your opponent that you sense and respond to with a realignment of your physical frame. All this can be incorporated in a tai chi for health form and the advantage to the consumer is the accessibility of these forms and the integration into a modern lifestyle.
Although it is an ancient art, tai chi down through the ages has always been continually changing. New styles emerge. Within a style, the forms have changed as practitioners within a lineage have adapted to new ideas and new feelings that result from practice with beginner’s mind. Life is change. Tai chi is the art of living life in harmony and balance.
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A Feature Profile – Jim Starshak, Master Trainer, Shawnee, KS, USA
By Dr Pam Kircher, MD, Master Trainer, Pagosa, Springs, CO, USAJim Starshak chairperson of the Tai Chi for Health Institute's governing board
On first meeting Jim Starshak, he appears to be a gentle, jocular man given to heart-felt hugs.  His history of a severe injury as a member of the U.S. Special Forces only emerges with his rare comment about how the weather affects his multiple screws imbedded in his spine and the lack of cartilage in his shoulders and knees.  A parachuting injury in 1985 left him in terrible pain with the possibility of limited mobility for the rest of his life. That accident almost finished his career in Special Forces, but his innate optimistic outlook, unique sense of humor, and personal determination left him grateful for the ability to walk even though it eventually required spinal surgery, lengthy physical therapy, and sometimes unbearable pain.  Eventually, he was able to walk relatively normally, but is now a disabled veteran who still feels the advanced wear and tear on his body from his 22 years of service.

When considering a new career, Jim chose to become a personal fitness trainer, realizing that as a participant in so much physical therapy, he had become an expert in encouraging people with adversities to be all that they could be.  He went on to start his own health and fitness business and then earned his second Master’s Degree – this one in Exercise Science and Health Promotion. 
People flocked to Jim as he motivated them to reach their personal best, but still, he had bouts of pain and restricted range of motion. After a chance tai chi comment from a long-time friend, Jim thought tai chi might help.  He began taking classes with Bill Douglas (founder of World Tai Chi Day) in his hometown of Shawnee, Kansas.  Tai chi helped reduce his pain and increase his mobility so significantly that Jim decided to add the Tai Chi for Arthritis program to his offerings through his business, for Special Olympics athletes, and as a wellness class at Kansas City Kansas Community College where he is an adjunct professor.

The blending of the TCA modified form and the encouraging way that it is taught fit in perfectly with Jim’s natural way of teaching.  During Jim’s first TCA workshop, he commented that he always tells a class, “It’s all about you.” That phrase captures Jim’s spirit as a tai chi instructor.  Jim has gone on to grow the Tai Chi for Health community in Kansas and Missouri while working with other tai chi players in the area in a harmonious manner.  He became a Senior Trainer in 2007 and a Master Trainer in 2010.  He has also developed a packet for people wanting to host workshops as his background in personal training and business has made him an expert in that field.  As a way to enlighten more people on the health benefits of tai chi, Jim writes articles and uses Tai Chi for Arthritis and the Yang 10 Forms tai chi to provide continuing education contact hours for Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Certified Athletic Trainers, and Health & Fitness Instructors. His expertise in tai chi and business, plus his dedication and positive attitude, are some of the reasons he was selected to be the first Chairman of the Tai Chi for Health Institute. 

On the personal side, Jim has been married to his wife Sally for 27 years and they have two sons – Dave and Mike.  Sally is also a teacher, but works with a slightly younger population in her 4th grade classes.  Jim and Sally both grew up outside of Chicago, Illinois, USA and their families still live in that area.  They both support and actively volunteer for numerous non-profit organizations and their sons are beginning to do the same.

Jim’s connection to the tai chi community has helped him to recover from his injuries, has brought him an extended family that includes members from all over the world, and has been a great asset to the Tai Chi for Health community.
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Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health
Dr Bob McBrien, Master Trainer, Salisbury, MD, USADrs Bob and Paul at a Tai Chi for Health workshop

The arrival of the New Year gives us time to reflect on the past year and think about one more year in our life's journey passing.

Laughter and good humor can help us reflect on the many sources of humor and fun as we continue our journey through life. A wise person said. “You do not stop laughing because you are growing old; you grow old because you stop laughing".  This month's essay offers some "food for thought."

New Year’s Ponderings:
• Why is it that if someone tells you there are one billion stars in the universe you believe them, but when they tell  you there is wet paint on the wall you must touch it to be sure?
• Why the man who invests all your money is called a broker?
• Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with?
• When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?
• Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?
• If “I am I “is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that "I do” is the longest sentence?
• If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians     denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed? If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

Perhaps readers have other examples of common expressions that are sources of laughter when we take a minute to ponder their deeper message. If so, send them to me at
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Warning: Dr. Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist. The authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter.
Ask Dr Lam- you can ask me anything about tai chi here.
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